What is a disability for purposes of Social Security Disability?

This is a frequently asked question for individuals that are thinking of applying for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration defines Disability as, “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental

impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” (42 USC Section 423(d)(1)(A)

Many individuals do not want to apply for Social Security Disability because they want to get better and go back to work. But there often comes a time when they realize that they are not going to be able to return to work. Social Security looks at whether you are able to engage in any type gainful activity and whether your medical problems are expected to last for at least 12 months. If you are sick and cannot work, but are able to return before the end of 12 months then you would not be eligible for Social Security Disability. If you are not able to work and you have already been out for 12 months or your illness or impairments are expected to last for 12 months or more, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability.

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